On Writing

Hustle & Slow Writing

Hustle & Slow Writing

Developmental edits are going a lot slower than I had hoped. Six chapters a week seemed doable when I started the month, but here we are the third week of October and I’m only in chapter four.

Homeschooling has taken up more time than usual, Saturdays are filled with five hours of kids soccer and football games (only two weeks left!), then there’s the regular household and life responsibilities, my anxiety has been high and depression raising its ugly head again, then there’s the general state of the world and the stress of the holiday season almost upon us (which is also birthday season for us). Life feels like a merry-go-round and I can’t see to focus.

I’m “behind” on edits, I haven’t mapped the Magnolia Woods stories for my NaNoWriMo project, I’ve got Byzantine research books to return to the library and still notes to copy out, and two ideas begging to be let out. I’m eager to create, but realizing my own limitations.

My evangelical and American capitalist background keeps saying, “Go! Go! Go! Do more! Produce, produce, produce! Don’t slow down! The fields are ripe for the harvest—and the book production! Serve until it hurts! Work until you’ve given it everything you’ve got!”

But my body is saying, “It’s time to rest.”

It feels a weird place to be to have ideas and consistent work, but limited time and energy to attend to the work. November marks two years of taking my writing offer the back burner and making it part of my daily/weekly rhythm. A year since I said, “I can really do this.”

All too quickly and often, I believe the twin lies of scarcity and now.

Scarcity—if you don’t get your idea out now the Muse will pass it on to someone else! And they’ll do it better!

Time—if I don’t do it now I’ll miss my chance forever!

There is always a deadline—NaNoWriMo, Pitch Wars, Author Mentor Match, writing contests, and on—an invisible finish line that lies to me, “It’s now or never!”

The mindset of these twin lies are so ingrained in me that I fear if I stop…or even pause, I’ll miss my chance…or even worse, writing will slowly find its way to the back burner with the flame turned off.

I’m learning to become okay with slow writing and even slower production. To divorce my worth from my work. It’s a lesson I continually fight against.

It’s a walk between worlds of writing and working consistently and not being discouraged as Mrs. Potts’ says, “These things take time.”

Hustle culture is harmful for all of us. Even before hustle was branded and slapped on t-shirts, mugs, and planners, hustle culture was alive and well…destroying people on the inside. I can’t say exactly where or when I first clinged on to the lie that I need to produce—quantity and quality—to be valued, but I did. (I was one of those 20-somethings who thought if I didn’t publish by 25, I failed. I’m 37 now. Time has a way of showing us the holes in our original plans.)

How do you work without hustle? That I’m still learning. What I do know is,

Hustle leads to burnout and overwhelm,

product over process, 

quantity over quality,

profit over sustainability, 

production over person.

All too often I slip into these lies and wear them like a shroud. I can’t dream, draft, edit, query, market, sell fast enough—so, this must be the end.

But it’s not.

Just keep telling yourself (and me, tell me too), writing to publish is a marathon, not a sprint. Find your sustainable pace—know when to walk and rest, how to take the hill and when to sprint, know the landscape and your body’s capabilities and limits…and just keep going. One foot in front of the other, one word, one edit, one draft, one step at a time.

I want to tell all the stories and tales floating in my head and I want to do it now. But I can’t. I am but one storyteller. I am learning to be okay with my limitations, even when I don’t want to.

How do you walk the balance of your limits and dreams?

Where do you find yourself in the spectrum of writing and feeling like you have to hustle?

image credit: Pascal van de Vendel +  Bookblock  (via unsplash)